Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Camp meetings were a phenomenon of American frontier Christianity. The movement of thousands of persons to what had previously been trackless wilderness in the eighteenth century in America had led to something of a religious vacuum. Not only were there few authorized houses of worship, there were even fewer ordained ministers to fill their pulpits. The "camp meeting" was an innovative response to this situation. Word of mouth told that there was to be a religious meeting at a certain location. Due to the primitive means of transportation, if this meeting was to be more than a few miles' distance from those attending, it would necessitate their leaving home for its entire duration, or as long as they desired to remain, and camping out at or near its site, as usually there were neither adequate accommodations or the funds necessary to obtain them. At a large camp meeting, many came from over a large area, some out of sincere religious devotion or interest, others out of curiousity and a desire for a break from the arduous frontier routine, although many in this latter group often became sincere converts as well.
Freed from their daily routines for the duration of the meeting, unlike traditional religious events these meetings could provide their participants with almost continuous services; once one speaker was finished (often after several hours) another would often rise to take his place. These sorts of meetings were huge contributing factors to what became known as the Second Great Awakening. A particularly large and successful one was held at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1800, where the Restoration Movement began to be formalized. They continued to be conducted for many years on a wide scale and some are still held today, primarily by Pentecostal groups but by some other Protestants as well. The revival meeting is often felt to be a modern-day attempt to recreate the spirit of the frontier camp meeting.
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